Derek Chauvin – A Real Chauvin(ist) – Update on George Floyd’s trial

Derek Chauvin – A Real Chauvin(ist) – Update on George Floyd’s trial

Derek Chauvin – A Real Chauvin(ist) – Update on George Floyd’s trial Loading

I have been watching intently the ongoing trial of the case of Derek Chauvin on my TV. Chauvin has been accused of the murder of George Floyd last year of May 25th, 2020 which sparked a nationwide outburst of riots by the public. Sadly, another incident has occurred where a police officer has shot dead […]

I have been watching intently the ongoing trial of the case of Derek Chauvin on my TV. Chauvin has been accused of the murder of George Floyd last year of May 25th, 2020 which sparked a nationwide outburst of riots by the public. Sadly, another incident has occurred where a police officer has shot dead a black man Daunte Wright about 10 miles from these court proceedings.

Having watched the trial so far, there is something to be said about the racial intolerance and police brutality towards blacks in general. Back in 25th May, 2020 police officers were called in to check on Floyd when someone had reported that a $20 bill was counterfeit. When watching some of the earlier footage of the police handling of George Floyd, I could not help how trigger happy the police are when met with any types of resistance. In this particular incident, if a police officer handcuffed me or pulled out their guns on me over a counterfeit bill (which I may have no knowledge of), I would be certain to sue their *ss.

It is hard to watch this trial which is in it’s second week and to do so without being emotionally charged. The video footage of the cameras from bystanders and body cameras paint a graphic picture of the whole incident. I would encourage folks to watch the trial because it teaches you many facets of a criminal litigation and the intricate details involved in conducting a real trial. You realize the depth that both the prosecution and the defense go to in order to shed evidence and to add credibility to their case.

Summary of Prosecution, Defense Attorneys and Witnesses

The Defense Attorney representing Derek Chauvin is Eric Nelson with the Prosecution team comprising of Jerry Blackwell, Matthew Frank, Erin Eldridge and Steve Schleicher. The presiding judge over this case is Hannepin County Judge Peter Cahill.

One begins to wonder how a $20 counterfeit call to the police turned so deadly. As mentioned before, it is clear that anyone can end up with a counterfeit bill since it is hard to detect but to go through an aggravated case of arrest seems like many things must have gone wrong. Again, this point alone can be telling in the sense that police officers automatically escalate a situation that involves a black man.

Week 1 of the trial

During the first week of the trial, it almost seems that the Prosecution had the whole case in the bag with witness after witness testifying to the horrific events of how Chauvin placed his knee on Floyds neck for more than 9 mins until Floyd became motionless and without a pulse.

The Defense worked hard to detract the jury from the compelling video images by focusing on Chauvin’s right to use force and the increasingly agitated and aggressive crowd. It was probably the only course of path that the defense had in order to keep Chauvin away from a potentially 40 years prison sentence.

Several big guns (witnesses) came to the stand who were carefully selected by the prosecution team to testify to the events surrounding the incident that led to Floyd’s death. Initial bystander witnesses came to the stand to give their versions of the incident to the court. It was often emotionally charged and the prosecution knew they needed to bring in key experts to provide corroborative factual evidence to add more weight to their case.

It was very damaging evidence where practically all of them testified to the unwarranted use of deadly force which most likely resulted in Floyds death from positional asphyxia. Equally damaging was Chauvin’s disregard for the other police officers’ remarks of ‘putting him on the side’, ‘couldn’t find a pulse’ and continuing to pin him to the ground with his knee until he was no longer responsive. This clearly shows a reckless behavior to human life which is actually contrary to the teaching and training of police officers where care and diligence must be exercised at all times. The prosecution continued to press on the required procedures of the Minnesota police force when putting a suspect in the prone position (handcuffed and lying face down to the ground). There were lengthy referrals to the manuals and training material used by police officers on how to best conduct their daily duties. It was clear that the prosecution was attempting to build a picture that Chauvin had substantial training on the handling of suspects but clearly disregarded this in this incident with George Floyd. The defense had a big hill to climb to show other corroborative evidence that played a bigger role in George Floyds death.

The defense unfortunately, time after time, came back with weak arguments saying that police officers needed to be ‘situationally aware’ and there was a growing aggressive crowd. It was later highlighted by prosecution several times that the crowd posed no threats while the defense took many jabs on this particular point but failed. The argument is also counter intuitive and potential double edged sword since their argument was that Chauvin could not properly conduct his work due to the hostile crowd. This should not have detracted him from carrying out his proper duty in the treatment of Floyd which was his primary focus.

Another point I wanted to make was, why Chauvin cannot admit that he was ‘hot headed’ on that day and was not in his proper mindset and totally regrets Floyd’s death. The outcome of the court would have been a lot favorable to him if he went down this clemency route. It is almost certain that the judge would have seen this in good light with someone regretting their overhanded actions and would have surely given him a lighter sentence and even time off for good behavior. One has to remember that sending someone to jail may be considered as punishment, but the real aim is to ‘correct’ the individual accused of the crime over time. This is because they need to ‘retrain’ this person to fit back into society to live a normal life. However, since Chauvin is fighting this case from a potentially weak vantage point, he could face a higher penalty if the outcome is found to be against him ie. guilty of aggravated murder etc.

In light of the worldwide protests that occurred following Floyds death the outcome of this trial will be emotionally charged. I would hazard a guess that any ‘unreasonable’ verdict which does not fit with Chauvin’s crime would be met with extreme hostility by the public and potentially nationwide. From the evidence submitted thus far, I am leaning towards a guilty verdict primarily due to the video footage and much of the prosecution’s expert’s evidence.

Some of the witnesses included the Chief of Police, Medaria Arradondo who unequivocally condemned the death as use of deadly force by Chauvin and a practice not advocated in his force. The counter argument by the defense was to shed doubt to the whole scenario that played out and police need to judge their situational awareness and there was unwarranted resistance on the part of George Floyd. But one of the sticking points to the whole event was that the prone position taught in the police officers training ensured that there was no positional asphyxia transpiring from their arrest and they are trained to take due care. They are taught to bring the suspect back from the prone position to their side so that they can breathe more easily since it is understood that keeping suspects in a prone position can complicate breathing.

Week 2 of the trial.

In this week, it was the Defense’s turn to bring on witnesses that they have hand picked to add weight to their argument. So far the Defense’s tactics was to shed doubt to the arguments made by the experts but have not succeeded as well.

First in line was another park police officer Peter Chang who was called to the scene to help with the already three police officers which included Chauvin. This particular police officer was told to attend to the parked car that Floyd was in and hold the two bystanders standing next to it. Despite his lack of visuals of what was happening in the actual scene he did express that the crowd he saw from his position was growing in hostility and becoming increasingly aggressive.

The second ‘expert’ witness brought in by the defense was Barry Brodd who contrary to the many experts in the previous week said that Chauvin had used the right amount of force to subdue Floyd. The prosecution did a good job of dissecting his testaments and breaking down the claims he made about Floyd offering continued resistance during the prone position. The actual task of breaking the arguments had reversed with the prosecution shedding doubt and credibility of the witness. However, the prosecution’s job seemed a lot smoother and more believable than the defense’s arguments of last week. Brodd did retract some of his earlier statements in the light of what the prosecution presented to him. The prosecution did a good job of bringing in the correct practice of a ‘normal’ police behavior to attend to Floyds distress and Chauvin did nothing. It is important to understand that sometimes our sensibilities can get in the way of presumption and in the court of law, one has to prove something without ‘doubt’ to the validity of their claims.

The argument from the witness seemed to hinge on the belief that whatever came from the mouth of Floyd was not believable and Chauvin needed to continue to pin him down due to resistance offered. To any normal person witnessing the struggle, it was clearly evident that Floyd was in distress during the whole time he was pinned down and Chauvin did nothing to de-escalate the potentially harmful outcome. This was in spite of the other police officers giving him information about the lack of pulse, passing out and Chauvin was heard to reply with a ‘A ha’. It was interesting to watch some of the replies by Brodd which included ‘could be’, ‘maybe’, ‘not sure’, ‘possible’. One begins to wonder how far a witness will go to ‘bend’ the truth in order to side up with one party. This was almost a good example of this where the witness Brodd was on the side of Defense.

It was rather sad to see the way that Floyd was gasping for breath in the video footage that was played back and the defense argued that he was still resisting arrest. The defense went as far to say his kick was an act of aggression when the pulmonary expert in the previous week had argued that was a result of his extreme effort to breathe. The prosecution later highlights this ‘twitch’ to be the lack of oxygen tot he brain and the final throes before expiring. The defense counselor Eric Nelson came back to cross examine the witness by dismissing that the prosecution’s evidence was based on ‘snippets’ and even mocked this statement along with his witness. The defense also likes the statement ‘totality’ of the whole incident to give weight to the justification of using continued force by Chauvin. Although, the defense never tried to explain in any explicit form the reasons for the prolonged use of maintaining his knee to Floyds back.

The other argument that the defense used were the pills found in the back seat of the squad car when Floyd was being put into the car. This was to segway into the condition of Floyd which was an overdose of the drug that contributed to his death. Despite the expert witness including the autopsy which showed death resulting exclusively from lack of oxygen (asphyxia) and not drugs. Even if the defense could argue that his death was a result of his overdose of drugs, it clearly indicates to the police officers at the scene were not vigilant enough on the condition of Floyd’s health and resulting in premature death. If the jury were to believe such a scenario, Chauvin could potentially obtain a lighter sentence where death occurred as a result of negligence. However, I do not see this happening. As can be seen from the video footage the police officers were exerting additional force to restrain Floyd which by training alone is considered potentially dangerous.

It does beg the question of what was going through Chauvin’s mind when he was clearly fixed on his desire to keep him restrained despite many warning signs. This single point alone may explain the riots that ensued because on the face of it, it appears callous, no regard for human lives but to the actual destruction of it. The fact that Chauvin chose to fight this case and not take the clemency route might explain what a Chauvin(istic) man he really is.

Leave a Reply